Perhaps the most intense of simulators, following the world’s most popular sport, Football Manager 2018 throws you into the deep end for an immersive experience. This title mostly follows all the aspects of football that take place behind the scenes, touching on training, locker room atmosphere, contracting, scheduling, and press releases. I’m sure returning fans of the series may feel at home, but newcomers beware: this is not FIFA and is heavily emphatic on the “manager” part.
Before you do anything, the game allows you to create your very own avatar, which you can design. The graphics are not anything to get too excited about, but that was not where my attention was fixated. There are additional details, such as place of birth, favorite team, and age. These small things do have some impact on your development as a coach. For instance, I noted that I was from New York and was 23 years old, and the press acknowledged these things. They asked whether I felt intimidated by coaching a team with members who were older than me. They also asked if being a New Yorker would help with team solidarity, because that’s where my team is from.
The UI takes some time getting used to, mostly because you have multiple tabs dealing with different things, such as emails, social media, scouting, training, etc. It is very extensive. Thankfully, you can delegate tasks to the AI via your assistant coach to take care of things you may not have any clue how to work. I think the layout of things is well done and easy to navigate through, which is a plus. I think that shortcuts to certain pages would be helpful, because you tend to visit only a few specific ones per turn unless there is something you are specifically looking for. You can also subscribe to certain players, teams, and journalists like your own mini social media hub, which is very true to real life.
My team’s issues lay in leadership and unit cohesion (the game points it out to you under the “dynamics tab”), so I tried to remedy the issue via training and arranging friendlies/scrimmages with less reputable teams. That worked to an extent, but I found that the team’s members felt isolated from each other. This is where my love-hate relationship with the game starts. I think it is really cool that a simulator takes social groups into account, but the groups often refuse to intersect. I try to have the older members train the younger ones to improve their game, and they either agree or disagree, but they don’t seem to bond in any capacity. Building unity among players is a challenge, but I have only found results in the locker room atmosphere and leadership when we win matches.
Players are fascinating to interact with, but they can also infuriate you just as easily. They don’t really seem to take your instructions into account when they play (you only see highlights from each game, so I could be wrong) and they tend to get injured VERY easily. You may think you’re playing the wrong football because all these injuries. Players also tend to act like they deserve more than they actually do, which comes off as pompous on my part, but in my experience, I’ve found players wanting a lighter training regimen while their training is already light. I’ve also found players demanding first team chances even if they are still recovering from fatigue. Some players are still “considering their options,” straining your relationship with that player even further.
There are also some small things you can say to your players before matches, at halftime, and afterwards. Depending on your team, you may have players getting complacent on the field. Perhaps they are getting frustrated. You can make the difference with a few choice words. It is up to you to gauge the correct tone and wording to gain the respect of your team, often times having to be stern and candid about their performance. My advice: don’t get cocky, because somehow the AI will have more possession of the ball no matter which team you choose to coach.
I had a good time trying to see if I have what it takes to manage a professional football team. Aaaannndd the answer is a bit of yes and a bit of no. The game does teach you how to effectively delegate certain tasks, but you can learn how to manage them yourself. I would definitely say there is A LOT of content here and plenty of room for replayability. I think a fair rating for this game is an 8.5 out of 10.